Elsie Louise Gillian Dwight
March 27, 1922 – March 23, 2011
Elsie arrived on Planet Earth March 27, 1922, under the astrological sign of Aries. She often quoted Shakespeare’s admonition to, “Beware the Ides of March”; this became a very empowering statement for Elsie and other March Arians.
Elsie was baptized at Second Baptist Church of Detroit, where her parents were married by the late Rev. Robert Bradby. Later in life she became a member of the Catholic Church. Many years later her brother Raymond and Elsie joined Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church of Detroit, under the leadership of Rev. Dr. Clarence L. Crews, their brother-in-law. At Hopewell Elsie always supported her sister, Varee, in her many duties as Hopewell’s First Lady. Elsie also served as chairperson of several Candidate Forums at Hopewell. In addition, she became well known for her special program comedic impersonations as The Ebonic Historian Esther Dunlap, and more recently as Esther’s cousin Mae Fanny from the fictitious town of Shoestring, Mississippi.
Elsie proudly proclaimed often that she was her grandmother’s pet, and that this wise woman helped to shape her life. Her grandmother, Queen Brooks, introduced her to history, which was Elsie’s introduction to political history and modern day politics. Her grandmother was very involved in political meetings, i.e., the Back to Africa Movement and others. Later following in her grandmother’s footsteps during the Civil Rights Movement, Elsie and her mother traveled by train to Washington, D.C. for the March on Washington. They paid $27.00 for a round trip ticket, and were at the Lincoln Memorial when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech.
In 1977 Elsie received as Associate of Arts Degree from Wayne Community College; she was one of two students given an Award for outstanding academic and community work. A few years later in the Winter of 1983, she completed the requirements for an Associate of Arts Degree in Gerontology. Elsie continued her education by enrolling in additional courses at Wayne State University and Mercy College.
Elsie realized her community responsibilities at an early age. She had a strong belief that work in the community helps to relate education to real life experiences. Her background in community affairs was extensive, and include the following partial listing: Lifetime Member, NAACP; Member, Joint Center for Political Studies Associates Program; Precinct Delegate, 13th Congressional District; Member, Bailiffs Local 217; Member, AFSCME; Delegate, Metropolitan Detroit AFL CIO; Co-Chair, State Task Force, Local Redistricting Empowerment Project; Member, TULC; Member, Area One Citizens Advisory Committee, Wayne County Community College for over a decade; Volunteer and Author of the Green Power Slate for the 1973 Election of Mayor Coleman A. Young; Worked in Chicago, April 1983, to help Elect Harold Washington, Chicago’s First Black Mayor; Volunteer, Jesse Jackson for President 1984, in Michigan; Jesse Jackson Delegate to the Democratic National Convention 1984; Volunteer, Jesse Jackson for President 1988, in Michigan; Jesse Jackson, Delegate to the Democratic National Convention 1988; Volunteer, Baraak Obama for President, in Michigan 2008.
Besides supporting her family, going to school, and working Elsie found time for her hobbies: politics; participating in continuing education courses, seminars, and workshops; and, traveling. Elsie traveled throughout the United States, and to Southeastern Canada, the West Indies, Japan, Korea, Thailand, The Holy Land (Jordan, Israel, and Egypt) and South Africa.
When her brothers suffered from long term illnesses, Elsie made time to care for their needs. She had been taught by her mother that, whenever a brother or sister needed care or help, to “marshal your forces and stick together as a family”. Elsie always spoke fondly of taking a sick, wheel chair bound brother to attend Nelson Mandela’s appearance at Tiger Stadium. This event followed Mandela’s release from prison, after 27 years of incarceration.
Some of Elsie’s fondest memories involved the closeness of her family. Her mother often stated, “Nothing hurts a duck but his beak.” Her mother meant that people can choose to use your personal information against you; be careful about what you say and to whom.
Having received sage advice from her ancestors, Elsie would unceasingly impart to young people who would listen the following advice: 1) – Education and formal training will enable you to get a job. But, people who have lived before you and gone through trials and tribulations have wisdom to share; 2) – Talk to older people, those who have experienced life, and listen to them. Even though you have brothers and sisters, sometimes in life when you might be alone, you must know how to function on your own; and, 3) — Always pray and talk to God about your hopes and your dreams, and your troubles. Keep your hand in God’s hands and no one can destroy you if you do that.
Several days following her return from an enjoyable three week vacation in Florida, Elsie Louise Gillian Dwight departed this life on Wednesday, March 23, 2011. She would have celebrated her 89th birthday on March 27th. Instead, Elsie leaves to mourn her passing and cherish her memory: two sisters, Vivian Walker and Varee (Rev. Clarence) Crews; a nephew, Leo Crews, Jr.; two nieces, Candice Walker and Angela Crews; and, a host of other relatives and friends.